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Cristiano Ronaldo: Leave it to the courts

If proven, the Real Madrid player’s tax evasion would mean those of us who support both him and the team have also been defrauded

Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of Sunday's game between Portugal and Mexico.
Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of Sunday's game between Portugal and Mexico. AFP

One of the most confusing moments for a soccer fan comes at the end of a match, based on the belief one should continue cheering on their idols. This can produce uncomfortable scenes in the street, with people sounding their horns to acclaim their heroes, or mobbing them, and even more horrific: when player and fan have the same responsibilities – in other words, with the Tax Agency. There will be soccer fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who are also his tax fans; who will have followed his goals with the same regularity as his tax returns and who are able to unravel his movements and efficiency on the field as well as his image rights and the legality thereof. Nothing wrong there: they may be right. But they should wait for justice to be dispensed by the regular courts in Madrid.

If Ronaldo believes he is innocent he should defend himself in the courts

In the meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is a player under investigation by public prosecutors – or more like it, a legend investigated by public prosecutors. Like many and almost all of the players in the same situation, the probe relates to a multi-million-euro tax evasion. If proven, those of us who support Madrid – and who see playing at the club as compatible with paying taxes – would also feel defrauded. Which is why it is good to put things in perspective: if Ronaldo believes he is innocent, he should defend himself in the courts, with those who pushed him into this situation, and not through threats to leave Spain, as though England or France were about to offer him tax immunity with open arms. This play-acting of extrapolating his problems into a cause, that of Real Madrid, and getting us all to be part of a popular defense, has already been done by Argentinean player Lionel Messi at F.C. Barcelona, the result of which was an “I am Messi” campaign – in other words, the use of his idealized image as a soccer player to whiten his sullied image as a citizen. Was that really necessary?

Real Madrid, which has issued a statement in support of its star player – I suppose to calm him down – grants Cristiano Ronaldo just about every privilege, and all of them deserved. One of them is that there is no limit to his salary. But that’s normal – only Di Stéfano can match him at Real Madrid. But just as fellow player James cannot escape the Civil Guard when chased by a patrol car into Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground, neither will Cristiano be able to escape the obligations everybody else must meet by asking to be protected by Real Madrid’s shield. No stadiums full to the rafters, no placards, no “I am CR,” and no compromising Real Madrid’s reputation with something that should only compromise a network of very expensive lawyers. Feeling supported is when your goals are celebrated and your mistakes are not booed; not when your tax returns are celebrated and those who investigate you are booed.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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